Paul Nilsen is a part-time freelance basketball journalist and addict (mainly basketball) who writes for fibaeurope.com and has his own site at gbbasketball.net. In between balancing a full time job and a girlfriend whose patience is wearing thin, Paul can be found somewhere near a basketball court writing about anything from Eurobasket to U16 women. Paul can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Freaknick: Number of times the referees will have to switch the game ball to prevent slippage due to Andris Biedrins’ hair gel residue:
Paul Nilsen: I think it is only fair that you refer to any of the online betting companies who have this nicely boxed off under “Eurobasket 2009 specials”. Worth a few notes and I would probably go for between 11-14 times – that’s the first quarter covered anyway. Seriously though I like ‘Biens’ a lot and I think that while Latvian hair gel technology might need some investment and development, his game is slicker than the product itself. I wish I had the option of putting so much gel on my hair. I do know from FIBAEurope that there are more court wipers ready with towels in Group B than anywhere else so at least they are well prepared. Any reference to a ‘slick defence’ by game commentators might just be referring to whoever is guarding Biedrins having been left in a gel slick so be warned!
FN: Much has been made of Joakim Noah’s absence from the French team, but Turiaf proved he can be a force both ends in Game 2 against Belgium. If you had to rock one of their hairstyles for a month, which would you pick?
PN: Well it is a sensitive subject for me and pretty painful to talk about. I used to have a pretty rockin set of dreads when I was younger but that’s all gone. You really have to search for my fringe and hairline now, it reminds me a bit of Russian offence. You know it is there somewhere, you just have to look for it. I have two choices of hairstyle: nearly bald or completely bald. Soon the notion of choice will be gone altogether. I think Noah will be missed by France but Turiaf’s hair more than makes up for it. In fact Turiaf and his hair are one of the few things that people don’t think are overrated about him.
FN: France had a Jekyll and Hyde experience against Belgium which ended just fine. If it happens again, which of these three teams could “French Hyde” (ie: Game 1 vs. Belgium) beat, if any?
PN: I can’t see a ‘French Hyde’ to be honest. I am not sure if any of the teams have the capacity to contain Parker and match the athleticism they have. I think France are a team that ‘Hyde themselves’. In other words the opponent is largely irrelevant, they are their own worst enemy at times and their ability to implode at the most inopportune time never fails to impress me. If you are twisting my arm to choose a team I think maybe Russia (with Khryapa) could drag France into a low scoring dogfight and end up sneaking a tight one. For me, Latvia and Germany are too weak in the backcourt so you would be relying on Parker having a real stinker and that is pretty rare! Mr. Hyde will however appear down the tournament stretch for sure – it’s only a matter of time and it adds genuine intrigue and mystique as to when it will occur, much like the original movie itself.
FN: If Germany exceeds expectations in Poland, Jan-Hendrik Jagla will need to step up. If they were to medal, he would surely need a proper nickname. The blonde hair is there along with a last name that’s fun to say. Any ideas for a possible moniker?
Paul Nilsen: Are you shittin’ me? If Germany were to medal? I am going to use that one instead of ‘If pigs were to fly’. Come on, if they get past the group stage without Dirk I truly think it will be the biggest achievement in many years. I reckon you are spot on about Jagla though, I identified him as the ‘X Factor’ for Germany in my preview for FIBA Europe. He is such a strange player and I am not sure about you guys but he seems to me to be one of those players you kind of excuse thinking he is still pretty young with enough time to finally step up, then you check his age and you think ‘Man, he’s in his late twenties’. That worries me and I think the time is now for him to really show. In terms of a nickname I guess there are a couple of options. ‘Jaglameister’ would be good because it also sounds like a German beer. If it were a beer it reflects the characteristics of the man himself. It would be served in one of those incredibly tall German glasses, it would be a little too weak and you never quite know whether you like it or not. You feel as though you should because it is quite expensive stuff but you are not sure why. Finally what about ‘The Claustrophobic’? He definitely hates going inside. Maybe the best nickname would be for someone with a phobia of paint – but does that even exist?
FN: The “H” in Viktor Khryapa’s name is silent. If it were up to you, what would it stand for?
PN: Well I had heard it stood for ‘Homer’ after apparently Viktor screamed out ‘Doh’ when he hurt his knee and is allegedly now recouperating in front of the television with some donuts. I really like Khryapa a lot because in the past year he seems to have finally grown up and put some maturity and consistency into his game. That combined with a lengthy and impressive skill set means that if he doesn’t make it onto the floor, Eurobasket 2009 will be a poorer tournament without him. Maybe those donuts will be just too good and getting off the couch in front of the television will be too difficult…